Gender reveal parties: thirsty for attention and downright dangerous | Jack Marshall’s column

Congratulations! It’s a… wait, let me pop this balloon. No, stop, hold it still. Well sorry, but I wouldn’t have jabbed you with the pin if you’d held it still. Okay, fine, I apologise. Please don’t cry, this is supposed to be a happy day. People are watching, let’s get this over with.

Welcome to the world of gender reveals.

A schmaltzy phenomenon which, naturally, started in the USA in the late 2000s, gender reveals are basically pre-baby shower excuses for attention-seeking couples to post a disgustingly saccharine picture online for likes. Don’t be fooled, it’s not about finding out their baby’s sex, it’s about a social media sugar-rush dopamine hit.

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Aside from being a bit naff and reinforcing toxic gender stereotypes, gender reveals also have seemingly limitless scope to go spectacularly wrong. Because, away from the realm of simple balloon-popping, some fervent couples decide to take things much further indeed.

Blackpool Tower lit up pink for a gender reveal

Recently in Texas, some soon-to-be-parents cajoled a 286-stone hippo named Tank into chomping down on a watermelon filled with coloured jelly to deliver the news. A similarly giddy couple went for a baseball theme: dad took aim, swung, hit the ball (sending a cloud of coloured powder flying), and smacked the mother of his child with the follow-through. Swish.

Given gender reveals are predominantly an American marvel, explosives are a must. A 47,000-acre wildfire started by an Arizona family’s gender reveal explosion caused £7m-worth of damage, while another featuring 80lbs of an explosive called Tannerite caused such a bang that it registered as an earthquake.

An over-eager Brazilian couple took to the task of spreading the word a little too zealously earlier this year when they dyed a local waterfall blue for their gender reveal. They later found out the waterfall was the main source of water for a nearby city and were hastily charged with a federal law violation.

If you’re still tempted by a gender reveal, just know that even Mother Nature hates them: a dad in Pennsylvania found his gender reveal party interrupted after a tree branch spontaneously snapped and landed on him. No one else was hurt, but he suffered a broken ankle and fibula. Just saying.